In software development, we talk about making the process of development as visible as possible. Be it by metrics graphing the progress of a project; Constant and clear communications; and visual indicators available to all who require or care about the state of a system.
Recently, I saw this same concept in place at the Westfield mall car park in Bondi Junction, NSW.
Each parking space had a light that would display either Red (taken), Green (available) or Blue (disabled space). Each camera contains a camera pointing at the car park.
After thorough testing, my sister and I discovered that a person can not make a space occupied by standing in it but a trolley will set off the "taken space" red light.
On reversing, the space becomes vacant and displays a green light as soon as the car has backed out far enough to no longer be visible to the camera.
When you drive in to the car park, you are told how many spaces are available currently, on each level. When you get to the level, it is quite easy to spot the available spaces by the highly visible green light.
This is the first time that I have been to Bondi Junction Westfield and not been circling to find a car park, behind a dozen other driver shoppers.
Yes, a picture is worth a thousand words and it seems that goes for a single glance to our brains. Without any explanation, people worked out what the colours meant and found parking spaces easily and quickly.
There is no doubt this system would have cost a lot for Westfield but I congratulate on solving the parking situation weeks before Christmas 2010, in an effective and simple way. Thank you for communicating with us. Great work Park Assist!